Shahid Javed Burki is a world renowned Pakistani economist. He has served as Vice President of the World Bank and Finance Minister, and his economic insights have been both appreciated and promoted by this blog. However, in his latest piece, the respected economist steps out of his area of expertise, and the political analysis that he offers is not only misguided, it poses a danger to national security.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia beheaded the 8th Pakistani in a few short weeks. This is remarkable for a number of reasons, but the one thing I am thinking about today is how different the reaction is to these cases and the case of Aafia Siddiqui who was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to prison.
In the case of Aafia Siddiqui, the Government of Pakistan approved millions to pay for her defence, and she was given a full public trial. Even after the trial, the state has continually tried to secure her release. Public rallies are held for her and she is termed as “the nation’s daughter’.
Then there are the others. The nameless Pakistanis who we have abandoned to be beaheaded in a Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Office has been silent on these cases. Are they less Pakistani than Aafia Siddiqui?
One has to wonder just how many humiliations Tasneem Aslam can possibly endure. The Foreign Office Spokesperson was trotted out again to ‘clarify’ Pakistan’s positions after Foreign Minister Advisor Sartaj Aziz slipped and let the cat out of the bag in an interview with BBC Urdu when he said that Afghan Taliban and militant groups like Haqqani network are not against Pakistan and therefore why Pakistan should make enemies of them – a direct contradiction to the official line from ISPR that “action would be taken indiscriminately against each militant no matter which group he belongs to”.
Hafiz Saeed is at his usual antics, holding rallies to spread imperialist ideology and instigate war with India under the banner of his so-called ‘charity’. In a response on Twitter, one person commented that “Sooner rather than later his mask was going to slip”. The truth is, however, that Hafiz Saeed’s mask has been off since long. It is only our blindfold that remains firmly in place.
The Foreign Office has lost any remaining thread of credibility in response to heightening of tensions with Iran. On Friday, Iranian soldiers crossed the border into Pakistan and killed one Pakistani soldier and injuring three others. This came just days after the Iranian government threatened to hold Pakistan accountable for terrorists operating from within its borders. The immediate reaction from Pakistan was a stunned silence, with hours passing by and no response from ISPR. After some time, Foreign Office issued a statement demanding Iran to provide proof that there are any terrorists in Pakistan. At this point, the Foreign Office lost all credibility.